Pretty soon, the winter won’t be the only time of year in which the area’s top basketball talent is on display.
There has been no shortage of great moments or individual excellence at Statesboro, Portal, Southeast Bulloch and Bulloch Academy, but a new program seeks to provide even more guidance and – hopefully – pave the way to a basketball career that extends beyond high school.
Corey Speights is a communications specialist in the Georgia Southern Multimedia department. Before arriving in Statesboro, Speights played for the University of Texas-El Paso and also served on the coaching staff at Auburn.
With years of playing and instructional experience under his belt, Speights is now looking to bring his insights to local players. Working under the name of Pathway Elite Basketball, Speights is aiming to provide young players with advanced instruction and the ability to square off against high-level competition.
Once the high school season ends, some area players are forced to travel out of town to play with AAU squads. While bringing that type of quality to a Statesboro-based program, Speights is also concentrating on providing potential players with more than some extra highlights on a recruiting tape.
“Fundamentals are the core of what I’m trying to do,” Speights said. “Some (AAU) teams have gotten away with that and are just focused on getting talented players and trying to place them with a certain college.
“What I’m trying to do is set up everyone to succeed as best they can. Maybe you don’t have the God-given size, but you can learn to dribble with both hands, use good footwork, and shoot free throws well. Those are the little things that can provide more opportunities down the road.”
Without stepping on the toes of school programs – Speights’ programs are being planned for the summer months – the instruction given will seek to build off of what players are already being coached to do on their school teams.
Everything about the program is geared towards preparing players to get the most out of their athletic abilities – including opening up educational opportunities.
“I’m from a rural area (Livingston, Ala.), kind of like Statesboro,” Speights said. “I remember when I was growing up, I didn’t always have the same opportunities as other players from bigger cities. I know there’s a lot of good players around here and I want to do whatever I can to provide them with opportunities to improve and be seen.”
One common setback of high-level travel squads is the cost, which can be prohibitive for many prospective players. Speights recounted how distance and cost were struggles of his own as a prospective college player and states that he’ll be seeking outside support to cover some of the more costly aspects of traveling to and competing in showcase events.
“This is all about putting kids in the best situation to use basketball to help themselves,” Speights said. “It’s in the name of the company – Pathway. I want to be able to put kids in a place where they can get an education through basketball.
“It’s ok to dream of the NBA. That’s a great career for those who get there. But there are all sorts of other advantages you can earn for yourself through keeping up with your grades and by playing basketball. The goal with this program is to make sure that every kid in the program is in position – academically and athletically – to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.